Ethel Cain is dead. That is, Ethel Cain the alter ego. In the eponymous artist’s first studio album, Preacher’s Daughter, her narrative-insert-cum-possessive-muse escapes a strict religious upbringing (much like the real-life singer-songwriter, Hayden Silas Anhedönia), enters a whirlwind romance, is kidnapped, gets addicted to drugs, and is eventually murdered. Oh, and with that last one she gets eaten alive, too. You’d think that final point an important one to note, but in the life of Ethel Cain the character, it’s almost not the worst of what happens to her.
Cain the artist has a voice likened to Lana Del Rey’s, as well as her idol, Florence Welch, and despite themes of kidnap, drugs and cannibalistic mutilation, her music is perhaps best described as ambient dream pop. Intensely dark lyrics sweetened with heady, otherworldly cotton candy. When put on the spot by my brother, asked to describe what her work reminds me of, I am embarrassingly old enough to think of Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People, a song infamous in its own right for being a laid back summer tune ripe for supine sipping with your mates in a park, though the lyrics happen to be the psychopathic assurances of a would-be school shooter. Cain’s music makes you want to relax into yourself and forgo the worry of every woe that wafts on by, but her lyrics are inescapably centred on violence, ostracisation and death.